A Tale of 2 Offers

Posted on: Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Posted in: HR FYI, Blog | Leave a comment

The recession in England rages on, and Sabbaticals continue to make headlines at major newspapers as companies create new ways to keep trained workers, yet cut costs.  At KPMG, a heavy-hitter accounting firm, 69% of the firm’s 11,000 partners have volunteered to take a Sabbatical or work four days a week, both at reduced pay.  In labor-intensive Jaguar Land Rover, the opposite is happening:  Only 15 of 2,200 workers at the Vauxhall plant offered time off with 80% pay have signed up. 
KPMG keeps sweetening the pot, which no doubt is helping draw get more takers.  They’re now aiming for 75% participation.  Wow. 
Meanwhile, at Jaguar Land Rover, where employees can make 80% of their salary not to work for a while, the enthusiasm for the offer is negligible.  One employee sums it up this way,
“I’d rather be at work doing nothing than sitting at home spending money.” 
What’s going on here?  Let’s offer a few speculations…

  • KPMG partners probably have more savings—and feel more secure about their eventual futures because of more experience and education. 
  • KPMG employees likely don’t have a union, and thus work longer hours and more days, and may know burnout better and thus welcome time off. 
  • KPMG folks may feel more loyal toward their company, having endured less change of late—and having obtained the coveted “partner” status. 
  • Auto workers may fear their jobs just won’t be waiting for them, especially since Jaguar Land Rover is now owned by an Asian company that could gradually shift manufacturing to cheaper overseas plants. 
  • Auto workers could suspect that their jobs are better, and better paying, than the positions they might end up in if they are terminated. 
  • Jaguar Land Rover laborers have probably lived with lower salaries, and may not have much savings; in fact, they may be in debt situations where not working for 80% of their salary simply would not meet the debt load.
This tale of two offers suggests that the chasm between professional and labor is deeper than ever.  Scary times like these are hard on families, employee morale, and whole nations.
Kudos to KPMG and their partners for finding the courage to BreakAway from stability and leap into the some freedom, albeit with many asterixes attached.  Let’s hope some of the good people at Jaguar Land Rover find way to take the time, yet keep their larger lives intact. 
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